In November, 2005, after learning from Michael Budkie of
Stop Animal Exploitation Now (SAEN) that the University of Connecticut
Health Center (UCHC) was imprisoning four rhesus macaques, the UCONN
Animal Rights Collective launched a campaign during National Primate
Liberation Week to end research on these intelligent animals. From the
hundreds of UCHC internal documents obtained via state open records
laws, the details of the 15-year NIH-funded primate experimentation of
Dr. David Waitzman were discovered. This protocol entails drilling holes
into the heads of otherwise healthy monkeys, implanting steel springs in
their eyes, intentionally inflicting brain damage, and then measuring
its effects on eye movements. The monkeys are killed at the end of the
One of the macaques, Cornelius, after undergoing
the initial surgical procedure, experienced tremors and seizures
regularly for over eight months before finally succumbing to a grand mal
seizure and cardiac arrest while being experimented on in November of
2005. A university histology report confirmed that the cause of these
side effects was a stroke that the researchers had caused during an
initial invasive procedure.
Waitzman's lab was cited by the USDA in November, 2005, for not
effectively seeking out alternatives to potentially painful or
distressful procedures and for not attending to a case of persistent
hair loss in one of the monkeys.
According to new
documents released by the USDA through the Freedom of Information Act,
an inspection of UCONN on March 7-8, 2006, conducted at the behest of
our organization resulted in five additional citations for
non-compliance that contributed to the tragic death of Cornelius.
Among the improprieties identified in the inspection report is the
employment of personnel who are not qualified and trained to handle
nonhuman primates (NHP), a failure to provide appropriate sedatives to
animal research subjects, a failure to painlessly euthanize an animal
who would otherwise experience severe or chronic pain, and a failure to
provide a complete description of the proposed use of the animals in the
study to the oversight committee.
university’s own internal findings in November, 2005, and the USDA
citations in November, 2005 & March, 2006, the university has
continuously defended Waitzman’s research. Dr. Peter Deckers’ (Vice
President of Health Affairs at UCHC) in a January statement professed
that he and his staff conducted "a thorough review" of the research and
found it to be compliant with all internal and external policies and
protocols related to the use of animals in experimentation. A similar
statement was made again by UCONN President Philip Austin in his May,
2006, letter to the university community.
release of the new documents, our claims about Waitzman's sloppy
research practices have now been substantiated by the USDA. Not only is
he engaged in a morally and scientifically bankrupt enterprise, but
David Waitzman and the UCONN administration are apparently unable to
abide by even the most rudimentary of animal protection guidelines.
In December of 2006 we learned that the USDA had visited UCONN three
more times since March, citing Waitzman for violations each time. These
citations led to the USDA barring Waitzman from publishing any of the
data he collected since March, as well as the submission of letters of
reprimand to Waitzman from the USDA, US Health & Human Services, NIH,
OLAW, and National Eye Institute. As a result of so much pressure from
the USDA, and the public pressure placed on UCONN, Waitzman decided to
'voluntarily' terminate both of his experiments-- the only two
experiments involving NHPs at UCONN. The school has no plans of pursuing
any new NHP work.
Two of the primates remaining from
Waitzman’s experiments were euthanized. The lone surviving monkey,
Mowgli, was transferred to the University of Mississippi Health Center.
We are currently working to obtain Mowgli’s freedom. Please call and
email the University of Mississippi officials listed below to demand the
release of Mowgli to an appropriate sanctuary.
Associate Vice Chancellor for Research,
University of Mississippi Med Center
Dr. Susan Warren
Chair, Institutional Animal Care & Use Committee, University of
Mississippi Med Center